Grade Point Average Calculation

As homeschooled teens progress through the high school years, many homeschooling parents ask questions about grade point averages. How valid are grade point averages for homeschoolers? How are these crazy numbers calculated? How do I figure out what my homeschooler’s grade point average (GPA) is? What is the difference between yearly GPAs and cumulative GPAs?

A GPA, or grade point average, is simply changing your teen’s letter grades (A, B, C, D, or F) into numbers or point values and averaging them to see where their grades stand as a whole. An A stands for 4 points, B stands for 3 points, C stands for 2 points, D stands for 1 point, and F receives 0 points (for failing).

A GPA is simply changing your teen’s letter grades into numbers or point values and averaging them.

Yearly GPA

  1. Assign points for each completed course credit.
  2. Next, add up the number of course credits taken. You should award either 1 or ½ credit for each course; give 1 credit for a 1 year course and give ½ (0.5) credit for a 1 semester course.
  3. Take the sum of the grade points and divide them by the sum of the course credits taken in a given year, and then round to the nearest two (2) decimal places. This is the yearly GPA.

If some courses are recorded on a pass/fail basis, do not try to assign a grade point and do not use the course credit in the calculation, as it will skew the results and not in your favor.

Also, if you choose to use + and – to qualify your grades, then the number scale changes. Add or subtract 0.3 points for each + or -. Examples: an A+ is 4.3 points, but an A- is only 3.7 points. A B+ is 3.3 points while a B- is only 2.7 points, and so on. It may be easier to stick with the whole number system, but this is up to you.

  1. An A for a full or 1 year course would result in 4 points; B is 3 points, etc. (See above.)
  2. A semester grade of an A would result in 2 points; this is calculated by multiplying 0.5 credits x 4 points = 2 points.
  3. Continue this formula until you convert each grade given for all courses taken in a given year, and then add the grade points together.

Cumulative GPA

Want to know the cumulative GPA? Remember the rounding at the end of calculating the yearly GPA? You can’t just add the yearly GPAs together and divide by the number of years; the result won’t be accurate. So, you need to complete the process again calculating as a complete package instead of individual years.

  1. Convert each grade to a corresponding number using either the whole number system or the + and – system. You may use the same number system and grade points you already assigned your student’s grades to determine the yearly GPA but add the 4 years together.
  2. Then divide the total of the grade point values for the 4 high school years by the total course credits accumulated over the 4 years (subtracting out any pass/fail credits).
  3. Round the average to the nearest two decimal places for your student’s cumulative GPA.

Advanced Placement and Honors Classes

Designing an “Honors” class is up to your discretion as the teacher, but make sure you can prove it.

A student should earn 1 point higher for an AP or honors class than a standard class. An AP English class with an A would receive 5 points instead of 4 points, etc. Designing an “Honors” class is up to your discretion as the teacher for what constitutes Honors designation.

  • Honors designation implies that not only a greater quantity of work was required than the standard high school course, but also a higher quality of work was expected from the student.
  • You should document extensively the reasons why a particular course was deemed Honors level, including additional assignments, extra experiments, supplemental reading, etc.
  • Because of the subjectivity of an Honors designation, many parents opt for AP classes/tests or community college classes instead, which convey impartiality to the grade.

Dual Credit

On an encouraging note, 15 hours of college credit validates a high school diploma. So, if there is any doubt on whether your college of choice will accept your homeschool diploma, for the last 1or 2 years of high school get your teen into dual credit at your local community college, or take college level courses either online or by correspondence, or take AP tests.

One last word of caution: have someone verify your GPA calculation to check for any errors before using it on college or job applications. A great double-checker can be your teen!

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